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Better Living through Creative Homemaking

A whole new world opens up for you when you can sew!

My very first sewing machine, a 1967 Singer.

Sewing is a skill that I wish everyone had in their back pocket.  When you know how to sew, the possibilities are almost endless.  For instance, when you can sew- you’re no longer limited to the curtains available for sale at your local store; don’t like their offerings?  Make your own!  If you want a new bed skirt that matches your décor perfectly, making your own is easy, pulls the room together and the best part, it is less expensive than having someone else do it for you.

Sewing is something that I have been interested in since I was ten years old.  My Girl Scout leader taught us how to sew a running stitch by hand as we made stuffed Christmas ornaments for our parents.  From then on, I was hooked and sewed anything I could.  Pillows, Barbie doll clothes, hats for my baby cousins, you name it.  They were all pretty shabby looking but no matter.  That Girl Scout leader opened up a new world for me.

Around the time I got married, I started thinking about a sewing machine and sewing lessons.  I remember asking anyone I could think of if they had a machine that I could use.  No one in my circle did or were willing to let my novice hands use it.

Dress made from a vintage dress pattern. Those styles are my favorite!

One of many quilts for my family.

Well, my Daddy worked for my Granddaddy for a time, installing burglar alarms.  He used to meet the most interesting people and got to know several of them because he was in their home for a week or more, putting in keypads and glass break detectors.

One customer that he met was particularly interesting because she lived in a beautiful cottage near Mynatt Park, in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  She had a pet squirrel who lived in her home, and it would sit on her shoulder while she did her household tasks.

While my father was there working one afternoon, she asked him if he knew anyone who needed an old sewing machine.  It worked, but she was getting older and didn’t use it anymore.

Lucky, Lucky Me!  I will be forever grateful to my Daddy for accepting that old Singer from the lady with the pet squirrel!

Now, the only experience that had up to that point with a sewing machine was sitting near my great grandmother as she magically whipped out dresses for me on her old Singer.  I knew how the machine oil smelled and the smooth sound of the motor, but that is all.

When I got the machine, it had black spool already threaded on it and being way too intimidated to take it off, I left it on and promptly went to the fabric store to purchase pink and beige fabric to make curtains for my newlywed home.  I was so proud of those curtains, black thread and all.

Custom Pillow Slips

Thanks to some wonderful ladies that I worked with, I was able to learn how to thread my machine and wind the bobbin. (This was 1995, so there was no YouTube)


Why am I telling you this story?  Well, I want to use it to encourage you.    If you’re going to learn a new skill and don’t have the means or the opportunity at the moment, don’t give up!

If someone tells you your work is shoddy, use that information to improve your work.  Don’t say to yourself, “I can’t,” especially if someone else is discouraging to you.  Find a way and do it!

In the beginning, I didn’t have a machine or anyone to teach me, but I asked for help when I could and read every book I could get my hands on about garment construction and sewing in general.  Yes, my work was wonky in the beginning, but I learned to slow down and read directions, and my abilities improved.

The very first dress I ever made (circa 1995)

Now, 19 years later, I can sew anything!  Curtains, pillows, quilts, garments for myself and my daughter, an old-timey sleeping shirt like Mark McCain wore in the Rifleman (because my son wanted it).

If you are a craftsman or have a skill, be a coach, mentor or an encourager to a young person. You never know how you may affect their lives if you give a little time or a kind word to them.

Some of my favorite sewing teachers on YouTube are Nancy Zieman, Anita by Design and Made to Sew.  If you prefer learning from books, The Complete Photo Guide to Sewing by Singer, and Readers Digest, New Complete Guide to Sewing, give helpful instruction.

Stuffed Toy made from a vintage pattern.

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